In This Review

Creating Charismatic Bonds in Argentina: Letters to Juan and Eva Perón
Creating Charismatic Bonds in Argentina: Letters to Juan and Eva Perón
By Donna J. Guy
University of New Mexico Press, 2016, 184 pp

Juan and Eva Perón forged powerful emotional bonds with the Argentine people when Juan served as president from 1946 until 1955. Having worked in radio, Eva understood the power of melodrama in popular communications; her triumphal appearances on the balcony of the presidential palace remain deeply imbedded in the Argentine psyche. Making use of newly discovered letters written by common Argentines to the Peróns, Guy argues that the couple’s charismatic connection to the public was formed as much by the people as by Juan and Eva themselves. These bonds, she argues, were not merely fleeting and personal but deep and collective; they helped shape the country’s nationalist identity and Argentines’ sense of citizenship. Moreover, Guy finds that the political foundation of Peronism was not only the organized working class but also the very poor internal migrants—especially women and children—who at the time of Perón’s rise were moving in waves from rural areas to Buenos Aires. Guy’s archival explorations have yielded a useful addition to the unflattering or even disdainful portrayals that dominate the English-language literature on the famous couple and their brand of authoritarian populism.